This flat-growing groundcover or small shrub with its purple flowers can take full sun and is an attractive plant for gardens in warmer climates.
Delosperma lydenburgense is a small shrub or groundcover that grows flat on the ground, sometimes with curving tips, and produces small tubers from the rootstock. The leaves are usually soft and tender and highly variable in shape, from triangular to cylindrical. The purple flowers are borne from spring to summer and are followed by the fruit capsules, which have four to six locules and pale-coloured wings on the valves and no covering membrane. The leaves have a glistering appearance, protecting them against damage by the high light intensity.
Delosperma lydenburgense is not threatened and has a status of Least Concerned (LC) (Raimondo et al. 2009).
Distribution and habitat
Delosperma lydenburgense occurs in Lydenburg Montane Grassland in the Mpumalanga Province at about 750–2000 m. Soils here are mainly derived from quartzite, shale, lavas and dolomites. Plants are subject to occasional frost, orographic precipitation and mist for the better part of the year.
Name derivation and historical aspects
The name Delosperma is derived from the Greek words delos, which means ‘visible', and sperma, which means ‘seed', alluding to the fact that the capsule has no covering membrane and that the seeds are exposed when the capsule opens, and lydenburgense refers to the town Lydenburg in Mpumalanga where its natural habitat is.
Bees have been observed as frequent visitors of the flowers. It is therefore quite possible that they are pollinators of the klipvygie.
Uses and cultural aspects
There is no record of the klipvygie being used medicinally or culturally.
In KwaZulu-Natal, other members of the genus are of significance because they are believed to bring good luck and are used as magical plants. In the horticultural industry this species is used as an ornamental.
Growing Delosperma lydenburgense var. lydenburgense
Delosperma lydenburgense is easily propagated from cuttings. Select soft, young material from a healthy plant and root in a well-draining, sandy medium. Keep the medium moist. Cuttings normally root very quickly and will flower the same season.
The plant occurs naturally in the summer rainfall area of South Africa. However, it does equally well in areas receiving winter rainfall, where it should perhaps be grown on sunny rockeries, in slightly sloping areas or as a pot plant. It also seems to do well in semishade. The klipvygie makes for a dazzling display if grown en masse or interplanted with other colours complementary to its bright purple flowers.
A selection of companion plants can include: Dimorphotheca jucunda, D. spectabilis, Vernonia natalensis, Wahlenbergia undulata, Gerbera ambigua, Agapanthus inapertus subsp. inapertus, A. inapertus subsp. intermedius, Aloe dyeri, A. gracilifolia, Crassula vaginata and Khadia alticola.
References and further reading
- Burgoyne, P. 2005. Plant of the Week: Delosperma. PlantZAfrica.com (http://www.plantzafrica.com/plantcd/delosperma.htm).
- Court, D. 2000. Succulent flora of southern Africa. Balkema, Rotterdam.
- Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. 2003. Plants of southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 14. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
- Mucina, L. & Rutherford, M. 2006. The vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Strelitzia 19. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
- Raimondo, D. et al. in prep. Interim Red Data List. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. (www. sanbi.org).
- Smith, G.F. et al. 1998. Mesembs of the world. Briza, Pretoria.
- Van Jaarsveld, E., Van Wyk, B. & Smith, G. 2000. Succulents of South Africa: a guide to regional diversity. Tafelberg, Cape Town.
Khangela Baloyi & Roger C. Oliver
Pretoria National Botanical Garden